It's the first day of a new decade in which India is expected to find its place in the sun, a seat in the United Nations Security Council and sundry other coigns of vantage. It's a fine, foggy first day, which impels thoughtful chaps like myself to moodily read the entrails of the times and prophecy forth. But I find that I am looking into the void. Worse, the void is not looking into me.
The decade which begins today is inscrutable, unfathomable and designed to surprise. Don't let charlatan analysts thrust their bright projections upon you. Don't let them confuse you with charts and pie diagrams. Remember that I am the only true soothsayer, and I am looking into a void which refuses to look into me. Our mutual ignorance is compendious. So the predictions that follow - picked out of a cocked hat - are shots in the dark, illuminated only by the muzzle flash. Entertain them at your own risk.
My most valuable prophecy is from the world of fashion. I am happy to predict the demise of the funny men's jeans, which have been all the rage for the last two years, which are cunningly cut to make it look like the wearer's behind has been amputated. I look forward to the day when men reclaim their backsides and I can fearlessly go out and buy some pants again.
Moving on from petty personal issues, I predict that lakhs of analysts who make a living predicting 'What the US is Up To' will be underemployed by 2015. The unipolar world is kaput. In the closing months of 2010, a recession-pooped US politely declined to continue playing banker to the world. Other nations or organisations will now call the tune and UN headquarters will relocate to Timbuktu.
Also underemployed will be thousands of analysts who live off the India-China deathmatch for supremacy in Asia. The tournament will be cancelled. In the last decade, the two nations were reinvented by money. Now, they will be altered unpredictably by social and political forces let loose by prosperity. Exhausted by rapid change, they will be happy to gang up instead of fighting. All Indian citizens, not only those of Arunachal Pradesh, will be able to visit China without a visa.
In information technology, the 2000s closed with the University of Glasgow unveiling a PC superchip that runs 20 times faster than current CPUs. But the device of the future is not your PC but your cellphone, which has been in your pocket for at least a decade. There are now four new mobile operating systems and as computing moves to the cloud, phones will put the PC out to pasture.
Which spells millions more cameras and microbloggers out there, connected to the internet. The decade of leaks is making way for the age of consent, when citizen journalism will credibly counterpoint manipulated reality and make it difficult for power and authority to work against collective will.
From personal experience, I appreciate that the power to sway opinion is like a loaded weapon. Use it or lose it. So what's your prediction for the decade ahead? Draw, pardner. Let's see what your muzzle flash lights up. I'm off to nurse my New Year's hangover.
Pratik Kanjilal is publisher of The Little Magazine
The views expressed by the author are personal